Fujikawa re-signs for unchanged 400 mil. yen

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NISHINOMIYA, Japan, Nov. 30 (21:02) Kyodo

Hanshin Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa accepted Wednesday an
unchanged salary of 400 million yen with new performance incentives
on a one-year contract, team sources said.

Fujikawa, 31, who became eligible for free agency this season,
decided to return to the Tigers without exercising his free agency
right. He even turned down the team's 20 million yen pay raise offer.

''I feel indebted to the team and think they have given me
enough right now,'' Fujikawa said.

Fujikawa posted 41 saves with a 1.24 ERA in 56 games with
Hanshin this season. If all goes smoothly, Fujikawa will earn the
right to travel abroad as a free agent next season, but the
right-hander said he plans to stick around in the hope of leading the
team to a championship.

''Next season, I have been entrusted (by manager Yutaka Wada)
with the important role of captain and I want to fulfill my
responsibility. No matter what, I want to win a championship.''

Also, Hanshin right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi re-signed for 200
million yen -- a 30 million yen salary boost despite a sub-par
performance in his first year since moving from the Lotte Marines.

Kobayashi went just 1-5 with a 3.00 ERA in middle relief but the
money for his two-year contract had already been decided. ''I feel
responsible that the team couldn't win a championship. I would like
to redeem myself next year,'' Kobayashi said.

Hanshin also said that Americans Matt Murton and Craig Brazell
will be returning next season after agreeing to contracts.

Murton batted .311 and had 180 hits for the most in the league
for the second year in a row. Brazell hit .282 with 16 homers and 69
RBIs but was sidelined due to injury.

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